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Nestled at the base of the Los Padres National Forest and just 80 miles northwest of Los Angeles lies Ojai, the small valley that has become an easy weekend getaway for escaping the city’s bustle. And it’s easy to see why: fragrant citrus groves float on the fresh, cool air every spring, not to mention ample hiking trails, health-conscious eats, Insta-worthy accommodations, and the famed “pink moment.”
Here, we’ve scouted the best places to stay and eat, the most fun things to do, and what to pack for the ultimate weekend getaway, from hike-to-lunch gear and NYT-bestselling author Sandra Brown’s latest mystery novel we can’t get enough of.
Where to Stay
Ojai Valley Inn Resort & Spa
A destination in its own right, the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa has been nestled in the peaceful 220-oak studded valley since 1923. Featuring a 31,000-square-foot Spa Village, multiple pools, and several dining options, you won’t want to ever leave the property.
Ojai Rancho Inn
We’re not sure what we love most about The Ojai Rancho Inn, a converted 1950s roadside motel: the rustically chic rooms featuring tie-dyed curtains and original artwork; the Insta-worthy pool complete with bocce ball, sauna, and hammocks; or Chief’s Peak, the hotel bar that serves up soju cocktails, boozy kombucha, and beer. The bohemian throwback vibe that unites it all makes it a perennial favorite.
The all-Airstream oasis of Caravan Outpost means shacking up in one of their 11 tricked-out trailers, not that you’ll be roughing it. Campers come with kitchenettes, cozy beds topped with colorful Mexican blankets, Juniper Ridge bath amenities, and outlets for charging all your gadgets. Morning coffee, nightly s’mores roasting, bicycles for borrowing, a gorgeous gift shop, and all the surrounding greenery enable you to glamp it up even more.
Where to Shop
A true Ojai institution, this shop had its humble start in 1964 as Richard Bartinsdale’s collection of books along the sidewalk for which people could leave payment in cans. In the decades since, it has expanded to be the largest independently-owned and -operated outdoor bookstore in the United States—and the honor system still exists for the 50-cent titles out front.
There’s no better place to outfit your vintage trailer or add kitschy touches to your home than the beloved outpost of Summer Camp. Housed in a mid-century gas station, the light and airy shop is a treasure trove of unique finds, like old-school camping gear, earthy ceramics, vintage clothing, and stuff you didn’t even know you needed until you walked in—like that made-in-Ojai tie-dyed bandana.
Tipple & Ramble
Part picnic provisions shop, part wine bar, and oh-so-charming, Tipple & Ramble is a place where you can shop and sip in style. Stock up on barware, blankets, picnic baskets, retro games, and gourmet snacks and then stay for a cheese, charcuterie, or mezze board paired with a glass of bubbly or rosé on their picture-perfect patio––a lush setting complete with hammocks and a vintage trailer.
Where to Eat
Kate Pepper didn’t start out as a baker; the hobby-turned-business was born out of a breakup. Several years later, Kate’s Bread turns out in-demand sourdough loaves, croissants, and scones from a pizza oven in a converted woodshop out of her parents’ house. There’s no storefront yet, but you can get her goods at Farmer and the Cook on Friday or at her house on Sundays. Best to order online ahead—her baked goods go fast.
Beacon Coffee Company
It’s not often you can grab a coffee and craft supplies under one roof. Perk up with a perfect pour-over or yummy pastry, including vegan and gluten-free options at Beacon Coffee Company. Then head next door for a Pinterest paradise of fabrics, plant dyes, ceramics, macramé supplies, and knitting goods at Cattywampus Crafts. Housed in a former Carrows restaurant, it doesn’t hurt that both spaces are super stylish.
What to See
The Iconic “Pink Moment”
Ah, the pink moment, that magic hour when the sun goes down and Ojai’s Topatopa Mountains take on tones of pink, peach, and lavender, bathing the valley in rosy revelry. It’s so serene, and best taken in from Shelf Road Trail, a 3.5-mile out-and-back hike with dramatic valley views.
For the best views in town, head to Meditation Mount, a 32-acre garden perched above Ojai that’s dedicated to the art of introspection. In the mornings, you can attend a free, 30-minute guided meditation session, or simply wander the grounds and take in panoramas of the valley, vineyards, and orchards below. A $2.00 donation is suggested.
Ojai Olive Oil
Taste Ron Asquith’s Tuscan-style Crisp (peppery) or Sweet (fruity) oils, plus oils flavored with rosemary or mandarins, and tour the pressing room, nursery, and stately old olive grove at Ojai Olive Oil. Check out the free tours on Saturdays from 10-2.
What to Pack
A Thrilling Read
Who doesn’t love a good (and steamy) mystery novel? From the #1 NYT-bestselling author Sandra Brown, her latest novel follows FBI agent Drex Easton as he navigates a 30-year search for a serial killer with plenty of twists and turns to keep you occupied by the pool.